F**kin’ Perfect: Pink Is 2019’s Artist of The Year

Grimwade / WireImage
– Pink
Cover of Pollstar’s Dec. 16, 2019, issue.

“I don’t believe in genres or boundaries,” explains Alecia Moore, known to pop music fans as Pink, the woman whose “Beautiful Trauma Tour” is the biggest of 2019. “And what’s epic about making this kind of show with this kind of repertoire is that it can be a rock show, it can be theater, it can be Broadway, it can be acoustic. 

“I want you to feel every kind feeling that you can tap into. I love theater, and that’s probably where it comes from,” continues the triple Grammy-winner who could seemingly be as at home in the air at Cirque du Soleil. “I think that’s what makes a great show. If you have trouble getting to your feelings, you won’t after two hours with me.”
Brash. Strong. Exuberant. Unrepentant. Vulnerable. Talented. The working class kid from Doylestown, Pa., was hungry for music, for life, for empowering herself and others. Rather than chase trends, she stubbornly committed to being herself.

Live Nation SVP of North American Touring Brad Wavra remembers his first Pink shows in 2000. Ironic, because in many ways, she was just one more track act, opening for ‘N Sync. But something about the young woman struck him like flint, sparking a memory that not only endures, but offers a measure for just how far Miss Alecia Beth Moore has come.

“I’ve seen the spiked red hair, bare midriff smoking version,” he marvels. “The pretty poppy one, the rocking, just destroy everything Pink, and they’re all her.

“When you listen to the words, though,” Wavra continues, “they are inspirational. It’s where she lives, what she believes in – and she creates a place where people can just hold on. She’s willing to share everything, and when they reach out or hug, she gives back, hugs back even harder.”

Andrew MacPherson
Pink’s All-Star Team (L-R) promoter Barrie Marshall, manager Roger Davies, creative designer Baz Halpin, Live Nation’s Brad Wavra, day-to-day mgr. Dane Hoyt, production mgr. Malcolm Weldon, and tour coordinator Bill Buntain. Photo by Andrew MacPherson.

On her own terms Pink has emerged a singular live force known as much for the intense physicality of her shows as her power as a vocalist, to go along with her soul-stirring catalog. Her “Beautiful Trauma Tour,” which grossed $384.4 million stands as the most successful tour by a woman this decade, the second most successful tour by a woman ever. Only 2009’s Madonna’s “Sticky + Sweet Tour” outperformed her; but it’s hard to argue with an average gross of $2,463,869 and 19,899 tickets on the “Beautiful Trauma Tour.” And on Pollstar’s Artists of the Decade List (page 20) her $626 million gross puts her above contemporaries like Jay-Z, Justin Timberlake and Lady Gaga, moving 6 million-plus tickets.

International has been a major focus. With Roger Davies, an Aussie native, known for his longtime work with Tina Turner, Olivia Newton-John, Cher, Janet Jackson, Sade, and Joe Cocker, taking the label-defying vocalist on, the hip-hop/rock/punk/soul singer set a broader course than the Britneys and Christinas who arrived at the same time. 

“Tina said, ‘I wanna fill stadiums like the guys do, like the Stones, Bowie, Rod Stewart and U2,’” Davies recalls. “She showed the world a woman could do it. Alecia was working with tracks, opening for ‘N Sync, but she’s so comfortable onstage, With my background, I told her the focus should be on live.”

It was also global. Before anyone was making Australia a priority, Pink was establishing herself as one of their biggest touring acts this century. When a Stateside hiccup with Try This leveled her momentum, the team – Wavra, Davies and fellow managers Dane Hoyt and Bill Buntain, creative designer Baz Halpin, production manager Malcolm Weldon and European promoter Barrie Marshall – doubled down on the rest of the world. 

Davies had her playing festivals across Europe for buzz, plus headlining arenas in Australia and Europe. In the U.S., she kicked off her tour playing to 1,200 at DC’s 9:30 Club, followed by a stint on Justin Timberlake’s 2007 tour. She never looked back.

With “So What” in 2008 being her first No. 1, many point to her 2010 “Glitter in the Air” Grammy performance as the moment that broke everything open. Suddenly, the skate punk doyenne held the world in thrall with an intimate song about facing life wide open, dangling from the ceiling, plunging into water and then rising into the air for more spinning.

Even Marshall Arts founder Barrie Marshall marvels, “We began at Le Scala in Kings Cross back in 2002. Her stage presence and stage skills are pretty legendary now, but it’s always been important that they don’t overshadow her writing skills, and a voice so blessed, she can sing absolutely everything.”

As Halpin says of his co-conspirator, “She does all this aerial work, but it never overshadows the song. When we’re crafting the show, you have to be able to strip everything away, all the production and flying, so that it works musically. … You look at the crowd, whether they’re 8 or 108 years old, it doesn’t matter where they’re coming from, they’re all looking with total wonder. It’s total escape, and completely what entertainment is supposed to do.”

“Beautiful Trauma” began March 1, 2018 and wrapped Nov. 2, 2019. Six legs, including an all-stadium run through Europe for a total of 157 dates. In 2018, though she had a late start, she had the fourth highest gross on Pollstar’s year-end Top 100 Worldwide grosses with $169.2 million; and in 2019 she outdid herself, and everyone else for that matter, topping the year-end tally grossing $215.2 million (see page 27). Individual highlights included two Wembley sellouts at 72,615 people and a gross of $16.6 million; and two nights at Munich’s Olympic Stadium grossed just under $12 million and played to 113,564 people.

With her unbridled force, genre-mashing and unabashed love of life, Pink’s willingness to explore the Australian market from the beginning with the help of Live Nation’s Michael Coppel paid off. Her last four Australian tours have grossed $198.7 million from 1.9 million tickets sold at just 14 venues. For “Beautiful Trauma,” she saw 11 sold-out performances at Melbourne’s Rod Laver Stadium with a gross of $20.2 million. Not bad for the woman who on her 2013 “Truth About Love Tour” sold the same venue out for 18 shows, grossing $29.4 million, still the Australian record for a single engagement. And her “Truth” record actually shattered her own 17-show record from 2009’s “Funhouse Tour.”

And at 40 years old, Pink still pushes her own boundaries. Unthinkably, she took five years off to refill her creative tanks, then emerged with Beautiful Trauma with a 408,000 opening week. During the tour, with her family along for the ride, she found herself writing songs worth keeping. Davies at first thought she might have an EP, then realized Hurts 2B Human was a full album. Who puts out a new album in the middle of a tour? Pink, debuting at No.1 with 115,000, does. 

“What she’s done is … just … outworked everyone!”  Wavra laughs, as he assesses Pink’s fortunes. “She wouldn’t take ‘NO’ for an answer; kept striving and pushing herself.”

“When she took five years off, I wanted to set up that record and tour, because it’s always risky,” Davies adds. “But looking back, it’s all a blur because we’d done so much promo all over the world. Her voice is so strong, and she can sing anything. The word of mouth – ‘You have to see the Pink show’ – had always been there. But the U.S. dates sold out so quickly, then the moment we put the stadium dates on sales, those sold out so quickly. It was 87 arenas, 42 in Australia, a second album in the same cycle.”

Harnessing her Power:
Kevin Mazur / Getty Images
– Harnessing her Power:
”Outliers says 10,000 hours, so I have my 10,000 hours,” Pink says. “I can always get better, but I worked my ass off, and I can go from arenas to stadiums to clubs to backyard barbecues.”

With three stages – one always going ahead, 50 trucks, different thrusts, “Beautiful Trauma” was bigger. But no matter how big, Davies affirms, “She knows everyone on the crew. She talks to everyone in catering, does little things for people. Out there, she leads from the top, is really approachable for the crew and the band.”

“She literally puts her life in the riggers’ hands every night,” Halpin says. “We look at, ‘What’s the risk here?’ We have a team who focuses on the safety, and her head rigger is very attuned to every bit of each thing. She’s always listening to her body, and her team.”

“Really, what other artist does what she does, physically?” asks Barry Gabel, marketing director at Live Nation’s Cleveland office. “Night after night from stage to the bus, the press, to the gig, the meet and greet is one thing, but to include the acrobatics and flying while she is singing… no one does this…. And she does this effortlessly.” 

Being bungee-bounced off a giant metal chandelier or flying over the crowd at 30 feet/second, Pink loves the physical thrill of performing. An extreme sports enthusiast, she goes to trapeze school; does yoga and physical conditioning to maintain the athleticism required. 
“I’ve been touring for a long time, and much of the success I’ve enjoyed is due to working with an incredible team,” she says. “Every single person I have the pleasure to work with is the best of the best – masters of their crafts, and over the course of many years we’ve become a true family. 

“I am so fortunate to have shared this journey with them by my side and I couldn’t imagine doing it without them.” 

They feel the same way about the woman who adopted a rescue dog backstage at her stop at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena, runs her own vineyard and raises two kids all as a matter of course. 

Halpin gets it. “I aspire to have her strong parenting skills, but she’s a strong role model for young, old, men, women. She stands up for the little guy. It goes back to the honesty, who she is, the fearlessness and the humor.”

“That’s how she lives,” concurs Wavra, “her normal life. … It’s how she chooses to do this. Even her singing: she’s not racing to the next word and note, she’s going to finish the word before she moves to the next. It’s the details.”

It’s the strength that defines Pink. Even more than the force, she digs into the doubt, the betrayals and the pushing back of modern life in a way that makes her instantly a hero.

I’m Gonna Swing From The Chandelier:
Kevin Mazur / Getty Images.
– I’m Gonna Swing From The Chandelier:
“Really, what other artist does what she does, physically?” asks Live Nation’s Barry Gabel. “No one does this…. And she does this effortlessly.”

“Anything you do a lot – ‘Outliers’ says 10,000 hours, so I have my 10,000 hours,” she begins, “makes you a master of your craft. I can always get better, but I worked my ass off, and I can go from arenas to stadiums to clubs to backyard barbecues. That’s important. As a performer, you should be able to do all different kinds of music in different stages with different kinds of audiences.

“I am a Virgo, and I am a perfectionist. Both my parents were examples of really hard workers. We did not grow up with much, and they showed me what it’s like to work really, really hard and nonstop.”  

Making her Rock in Rio debut this year, she spent the money to take her entire show to Brazil. Wavra recognizes her passion to deliver as something simple, “She goes out of pocket, because she feels those fans deserve it. It’s important to her to do that for the fans.”

“It’s so much about self-belief, isn’t it?” Davies says of his client. “With that drive and talent, I’ve watched her get better and better. Her musical knowledge and taste is exceptional. She loves rock and pop and hip-hop – and she brings it all together in a way. She’s empowering people, and the realness of it. She’s a strong woman and people relate to her.

“Next year will be my 20th year with her. Some nights, just watching her, I’ll go, ‘My God, she’s so fucking good.’”